You probably remember the scene.
It was November of 2008. The Memphis Grizzlies’ season just started, and given the roster, it looked like another lottery-bound season. But there was something different. Something to hold onto for a radiant glimmer of hope. That hope was a young man named Ovinton J’Anthony (“O.J.”) Mayo. Out of high school, Mayo received the most praise of any high school prospect since LeBron James. Coming out of the gate, he was justifying the hope.
On this November night, he just finished a strong four-game West Coast road trip where he averaged 28.0 points per game while connecting on a sizzling 51.9 (14-27) percent from deep. With his ball-handling, elite scoring abilities and the hype train behind him, you couldn’t help but believe that he was going to become a bonafide superstar for a decade — eventually leading the Grizzlies to the Promised Land.
But things went downhill after that, because the Grizzlies have terrible luck with 80% of their prospects.
Right now, there’s an abundance of talent in the league right now capitalizing on the opportunity to contribute at such a young age, exuberayting insane potential to become a superstar.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown look like the real deal in Boston, as they’ve carried a heavy scoring load in Boston’s improbable playoff run. Donovan Mitchell was absolutely electric this season and became a legitimate go-to scorer on a bonafide playoff team. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid could be the 1-2 punch that carries Philadelphia to “championship” contender status. Karl-Anthony Towns sniffed playoff basketball for the first time, and he’ll definitely learn from his struggles from this year’s series.
You still have incredible young talent on non-playoff teams as well. If you ignore the hype train, Lonzo Ball is a triple-double machine that’s a transcendent playmaker. On his team, you have two guys that could evolve into 20-point scorers in Kyle Kuzma and Brandan Ingram. Kristaps Porzingis and Nikola Jokic will carry the torch from Dirk Nowitzki and the Gasol brothers as the next great European big men. Devin Booker could eventually become a scoring title champion one day.
Let’s just say the league is in good hands.
With all the young talent mentioned (and not mentioned) above, you have to wonder when the Memphis Grizzlies will receive their promising superstar-in-the-making.
If you really think about it, they haven’t had one since Mayo — and he didn’t even become a star.
With this year’s draft pick though, they have the chance to acquire a player that’ll join the new wave of All-Stars. This player could make life easier for the aging duo of Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, as they look to bounce back into the playoffs. This young star could also be the next Jayson Tatum or Donovan Mitchell and help lead this Grizzlies team into the postseason.
Finding such a player will do wonders for this franchise, as they really don't have a symbol of hope for years down the road (this also depends on what you believe Dillon Brooks will evolve into).
With a top-five pick though — no matter where it lands — they’ll could still get that immediate star player. Maybe DeAndre Ayton could be that generational big man many believe he’ll become. Or, Luka Doncic is really about the hype and is the best European prospect ever. Marvin Bagley III could prove doubters wrong about his positional fit and become a position-less star in the process. Jaren Jackson Jr. could prove that his potential boom in a pace-and-space NBA. Michael Porter Jr.’s back could be fine, and he’ll be another Jayson Tatum.
You never really know with the draft. All I know is, the Memphis Grizzlies are due for a breakout superstar. It’s been way too long.
Knocks on every piece of wood within proximity.